Meathman's Diary: This was a year we saw far more heroes than zeros

There’s no contest is there? I’m referring to who were the heroes of 2020, a year that won't be forgotten for all sorts of reasons. Unfortunately we also had our share of those who didn't cover themselves in glory, anti-heroes if you like.

The indisputable, undeniable, incontrovertible, incontestable heroes of this amazing year were the front line workers who held the line between us and a pesky, little virus that wrecked havoc around the world and hasn’t finished it’s dirty work yet. The nurses, doctors, physios, porters, ambulance drivers, medics of all kinds who risked their lives to save others. What courage, what selflessness.

To argue otherwise would be like squabbling against the importance of the sun rising in the morning, or Santa at Christmas.

The role played by frontliners made the recent decision by members of the government parties to vote down a bill proposing that student nurses should get paid for the work they do all the more risible. As someone who supports the Green Party I was left bitterly disappointed with it’s stance on that issue - and wondering if I should vote for the party next time around. I’m sure I’m not alone.

They say you are losing when you get angry but I could certainly feel the bile rise inside me when I heard the Bill had had been defeated – and it didn’t do much for the nerves when a few days later we heard how certain other members of the public service were getting an upgrade in their pay; increases that were no doubt deserved but just it just looked terrible.

There were others too who played huge, morale boosting roles this year. Members of sports clubs around Meath for instance played their part by ensuring older people in their communities who were in strict lockdown didn’t go short of necessary supplies. Brilliant work.

Yet as well as the heroes there were the zeros, people who didn’t step up to the mark. Among them were those who protested against restrictions on wearing masks by purposely gathering together to protest - without masks. Personal liberties are the cornerstone of any democracy, vital, but not when they put the lives of others in danger.

Most people by far are brilliant in following the Covid-related rules yet we will always get those who won't. Others who haven’t covered themselves in glory are those who book a table in restaurants and then don’t show up.

I heard one owner bemoaning how one night recently 50 per cent of people who booked didn’t show. With many business outlets tethering on the edge that's the last thing they need.

Thankfully the vast majority of folk are conscientious, respectful of others and their struggles. Thankfully the heroes outnumber the zeros. That, at least, is something to celebrate this festive season.

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